After you go through a recovery program, what are your chances of staying sober? It’s true that there is a high risk for relapse among patients, even after finishing a program. The best way to stay focused while living a sober lifestyle is to stay in contact with the people who helped you along the way and to continue working with the treatments that helped the most.
As soon as you enroll in a rehabilitation program, you should start to have discussions about what will happen after the program ends. Will you have a job or home? Do you think you’ll have a risk of relapse in your environment due to triggers? Do you want to move or change your environment to prevent relapse? Do you have concerns about relapsing due to being on your own?
Asking yourself these questions is important, because understanding your risk can help you decide which kind of program to get involved with. There are many kinds of aftercare, and all of them can be integral to staying sober after your release.
After a client leaves treatment, an aftercare program such as a sober living home can help a person achieve on-going recovery in a stable, sober living environment.Learn More
Recovery groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, SMART Recovery and countless others help addicts maintain their recovery after rehab.Learn More
Aftercare is any kind of care you receive following your initial inpatient or outpatient recovery program. This program is designed to minimize the risk of relapse, helping you avoid having to return to a recovery program. Aftercare programs can help you recognize when you’re falling back into bad habits or self-destructive patterns, so you can focus on living the life that you dream of.
Aftercare treatment is particularly important for those suffering from a dual diagnosis, because these patients have a serious underlying medical condition that needs to be monitored. Bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and others need lifelong treatment. Staying in contact with therapists and group support, as well as working with medical doctors, can be a way for these patients in particular to keep on the road to sobriety.
Aftercare can involve what is known as a relapse prevention program. All the kinds of aftercare offer this kind of program; it’s one that helps you learn about the triggers that make you want to turn to drugs or alcohol. It helps you cope, think about your actions or potential actions, and helps you learn that you can overcome a lapse in judgment to prevent that lapse from becoming a relapse.
Aftercare helps patients cope with ongoing concerns of substance abuse and dual diagnoses. In fact, 8.9 million Americans suffer from co-occurring conditions, which can be treated in the long term through aftercare programs.
Only 7.4 percent of people with co-existing conditions seek treatment for both.
Aftercare is critical as a part of addiction treatment. It greatly reduces the risk for relapse after a program ends.
What does that all mean? It means you’ll learn more about the things that affect you, your moods, and your health. You will learn how to manage your anxiety, mental health, or other concerns. You can even learn to cook, clean, or manage your income in aftercare to help you reduce your stress when you’re living independently.
Learning to think about your actions is also known as being mindful. If you can consider the actions you’re taking and consider the potential outcome of those actions before you commit, you can see if you’re positively or negatively influencing your life. If you do have a lapse in judgment and go to a party with drugs or order an alcoholic beverage, all is not lost. You can stop yourself from relapsing with the mindfulness to know that you shouldn’t ruin all your hard work; you can change your mind, even if you’ve made a mistake.
Once you decide that you want to pursue aftercare, you need to know the kinds there are on offer. The type you choose should fit your personal goals and desires for the privacy or lifestyle you want after recovery.
Because every patient is different, it’s no surprise that so many types of aftercare have emerged. Below are listed some of the most common types, but there are many beyond these as well. Talk to your rehabilitation facility about any kind of specialty programs you may be interested in, like art therapy or animal-assisted therapy, for aftercare. These may be offered alongside other kinds of aftercare, or you may even be able to start those therapies in rehabilitation and continue them once you enter aftercare.
These are some of the most common aftercare programs provided to patients.
12-step programs are most commonly used for recovering alcoholics. Alcoholics Anonymous is the most famous 12-step program, although there are others based on the same design. 12-step groups are the most common and widely known aftercare groups. The members are encouraged to come to the meetings often, and meetings may be held several times a week in varying locations. Members may attend for as long as they’d like; some attend for the rest of their lives.
Those who are new in the program might want to try a burst of visits to the group. Thirty in 30, for instance, is a program where the member tries to go to the aftercare program every day for a month. There are other similar patterns that can be followed as well.
For those going to a 12-step program as aftercare, it’s possible that they’ll be asked to mentor others who are just starting on the journey to sobriety. Helping someone else is a great way to keep you sober, because you’re responsible not only for your own health but the health and support of another person. This can be a bonding experience as well, which helps build up a support system that is even larger than the group you already have.
A sober-living community is just that. It is a community of those who choose to live a sober lifestyle. This aftercare option can vary, from being similar to a halfway house to being a community of like-minded people recovering from addiction. The main rule is clear: There are no drugs or alcohol on site. The community is designed to keep temptation at a minimum at all times.
Most sober-living communities have residency requirements. Random drug and alcohol tests are common, and guest fees are normal. Working, going to school, or being involved in an outpatient program is typically required to live in the community. When there are recovery meetings, the individuals in these communities are expected to attend most of the time. There is no space for violence or overnight guests in the community in most circumstances.
Sober-living facilities are normally paired with a recovery center, so it has the potential to set up treatments or call in therapies to help the people in the community when needed.
A halfway house is a facility used by those still recovering from substance abuse but who have also graduated from a recovery program. These individuals may not feel that they’re prepare to go back into a normal lifestyle, so the shared home is a better option for them.
As a patient outgrows recovery, it’s important that the patient has a place to go with more freedom, but not enough freedom as to allow for relapse. For some, going back to their former lifestyles causes a high threat for relapse. They may not feel confident that they can stay sober on their own.
That’s where a halfway house can help. The facility offers a house as a living facility; several people share the home as they recover. They can work, go to school, or do other necessary things, but most importantly, they share in the duties of caring for the home. Up to several times each week, a counselor or medical provider comes to the halfway house to discuss how things are going and any concerns the residents have.
Residents do pay for the home and utilities; they pay for food, cook, and clean. Since they split the costs, this can be a time for the individuals to save and look for a future residence outside the halfway house.
Aftercare can provide a way to help those who are unemployed transition back into society with an affordable living situation. Transitional living is one kind of aftercare that can benefit most patients.
Aftercare provides emotional support and encouragement for the long term, helping patients recognize and prevent relapses.
A survey of those in Alcoholics Anonymous suggested that after five years, the relapse rate of patients in the program dropped to around 7 percent.
Dual-diagnosis support is relatively new in the world of sober living. Dual-diagnosis patients are special, because they have two major conditions affecting them. One is living with a mental-health disorder, while the other is living with addiction. The successful treatment of a dual-diagnosis is possible, but the program needs to be tailored especially for the patient.
In a dual-diagnosis aftercare program, patients may have many options. They may have weekly, biweekly, or monthly meetings with their doctors or nurses to manage medications for their mental health conditions. They may have therapy with a private therapist or counselor several times a month to talk about their addiction, cravings, emotional stability, and other concerns.
Going from a nurturing rehabilitation facility to everyday life can be a shock for some dual-diagnosis patients, especially if they do not have supportive family or friends to return to. It’s important to have either a caregiver or case worker visit the home for check-ins or even stay with the patient for some time as they adjust to living independently again. This can help prevent feelings of isolation or depression, both of which can be common with mental health disorders.
Change can also be a trigger for mental health disorders, so it’s important for anyone transitioning back into normal everyday life to be in contact with the rehabilitation facility and its case workers. Anyone who struggles can be referred either back into an inpatient or outpatient facility or to a counselor or home caregiver who can help. There’s no reason for change to be the reason a patient relapses or falls back into bad habits.
While group therapy is very common in inpatient and outpatient settings, that kind of therapy isn’t comfortable for everyone. Some patients want their privacy to be taken very seriously, particularly if they are celebrities, business people, or have something to lose by exposing their drug or alcohol addiction. That’s okay in aftercare, because private counseling is always possible.
Counseling has huge benefits to people, whether or not they have an addiction. It gives them a place to talk about their fears, anxieties, successes, and failures. It can be a place of calm reflection or breakdowns and emotional release.
Speaking one-on-one with a therapist allows a patient to become closer and form a connection with the medical provider. This can make it easier to talk about past trauma or problems the patient is facing in daily life. Having this kind of relationship can be supportive; any time there’s a problem, a patient knows exactly who to call and where to get help.
Counseling is also beneficial for helping patients stay motivated. The motivation to stay sober can dissipate, especially if things aren’t turning around as quickly as a patient had hoped. This is a serious concern in early sobriety, so counselors can help motivate their clients by cheering them on and making them set goals that are easy to achieve, even when times are rough.
Counselors also help patients recognize when there are signs of relapse taking place. They can provide a way to cope with negative or self-depreciating feelings and help a patient build a strong social support network that is always there to help, even in the darkest times.
Booster sessions are offered following your rehabilitation program. This is a new aftercare option, so not all facilities will be able to offer it. Essentially, what it does is provides ongoing support at the same facility where treatment was provided. The sessions take place for several months following the person’s rehabilitation, giving him time to work back into society with the support of the medical and therapeutic groups he’s worked with in the past.
As new concerns come up, the medical or therapy team can work with the individual to come up with new coping strategies or talk about how recovery outside the facility is for them. The goal of these sessions is to continue motivating the individual and to reduce the overall risk of relapsing.
Support groups don’t have to be 12-step programs like AA, which is based in spirituality. Some support groups are based on age, gender, or other factors. For example, a teen rehabilitation group may meet for people between the ages of 13 and 15, helping that particular age group deal with daily concerns or goals. Christian groups, male or female groups, groups for the elderly, and others also exist. These groups may go to themed conventions, conferences or have special dances for members, so they can feel a part of something bigger than themselves.
Aftercare is a special time for many graduating from recovery. During aftercare, they can reflect on their time in a recovery facility and work on the coping strategies learned during their time there.
The fact of abuse is that most people who abuse drugs or alcohol turn to those substances because they don’t have the right coping mechanisms. Instead of turning to a healthy outlet, drugs or alcohol are used to relieve fears and anxieties. Life is always going to have ups and downs in it, but that won’t bode well for someone without the coping mechanisms needed to succeed. Fortunately, treatment programs help teach these mechanisms.
The next step for a patient to take is aftercare. How does aftercare help? It reinforces everything a patient has just learned. It carries on for as long as a patient needs, so that person never has to go without someone to talk to or somewhere to go during life’s down times. During good times, aftercare facilities and providers are still there to celebrate with individuals; if you’ve made it through a recovery program, you deserve to celebrate every success you have, no matter how small it may seem to you.
Anyone who goes through recovery should consider going to aftercare. If you attend aftercare even once in a while, you can lower your risk of relapse substantially and increase your lifespan on average. Aftercare is there to keep you motivated, engaged, and satisfied with the way your life is going. Any time you face a new problem, you can bring it to your counselor or group and talk about it. That ability makes it so much easier to overcome concerns; it is, after all, easier to defeat a problem with more than one person working together.
The risk of relapse to patients who make it through an addiction treatment program is up to 50 percent. In reality, it’s possible that patients who relapse may not get another chance to go through a program, so that relapse could mean the patient won’t recover or seek further help.
Aftercare programs help prevent relapsing. The highest risk of relapse happens immediately following the release from an inpatient or outpatient program for up to around 60 days. During this time, aftercare can provide the balance needed to prevent relapses from occurring or derailing all the hard work that the patient has already put into his or her sobriety.
Relapses are much more common for up to five years following a recovery program. Patients may continue aftercare during that time to better their chances of success.
How do you know if the program you’re looking at for aftercare is right for you? Ask yourself a few questions, and you can narrow down the choices.
Do you have a safe environment at home? No? Moving into a halfway house or sober-living facility can help you refocus your efforts, make new friends, and create new relationships that support and raise you up instead of tearing you down.
If you have a safe home and a strong support network, maybe you’d like to go to a 12-step program to help another patient struggling with addiction. Or, if you want to keep your concerns a little more private, then private counseling could be an option that would work well for you.
Do you have a job? If you don’t, it can be hard to get back on your feet. Fortunately, a halfway house gives you the opportunity to get a job, begin working, and slowly start paying bills while you learn to save, clean, cook, and live independently. You’ll live with others, so you don’t have to face staying sober alone. You’ll also get the freedom you desire and be able to choose any job or social activities you want to participate in outside the home.
Another question to consider is what you enjoy doing. Do you want to meet up with friends and be social? You may enjoy group sessions, where you can get to know others and go to conventions or other activities as a group. If you like to be on your own more or find comfort in independence, working through art therapy courses or using animal-assisted therapy can be beneficial to you at home or with one or two other people or teachers. Aftercare comes in so many styles that you can choose whatever suits your lifestyle better without the concern that you won’t fit in or feel supported. Whether you want to go to an all-female or all-male group, join a 12-step program for its spirituality, or focus on living a normal day-to-day life in a halfway house, these opportunities are there to give you a chance to thrive without the concern of relapsing or being unable to recover from a minor lapse in judgment.